By Laura Camper / firstname.lastname@example.org
A crowd of five gathered for the public hearing for the city of Grantville’s proposed budget and millage rate in Grantville on Tuesday.
The city’s proposed fiscal year 2023, $3.1 million budget reflects inflation with a total increase of 9 percent from the current budget. Much of the increase — including insurance, retirement, gasoline and diesel, and food — is beyond the city’s control, said Grantville City Manager Al Grieshaber.
“The fiscal year 2023 general fund budget is a purely operational budget to keep the same level of service delivery that our residents expect and deserve,” Grieshaber said. “There are no new positions, nor money for them.”
Every expenditure listed in the general fund budget included an increase. Regular salaries included an 11 percent increase, or $83,297. The city’s retirement contribution included a corresponding 11 percent increase, or $5,650.
Property and liability insurance increased 20 percent or $17,670 and employee group insurance increased 15 percent or $40,564.
Gasoline and diesel increased 33 percent or $27,500 and food increased 14 percent or $10,000. Other expenditures which include items like audits, legal accounting, technical fees, communication and professional fees increased 6 percent or 81,850.
The proposed budget is based on a millage rate of 4.75 mills. While the proposed millage rate decreased from 5.228 mills, it still represents a property tax increase since the city’s property tax base — the value of all the taxed properties in the city limits — increased.
The increase will cost owners of a property valued at $150,000 with a homestead exemption of $10,000 a total of $13.20 for the year, Grieshaber said.
The owners of a property valued at $150,000 without a homestead exemption will see a property tax increase of $15.84 due to the tax increase, he said.
Leon Dyes, one of the residents who attended the meeting, said he was not in favor of the millage rate increase.
“I think the city needs to cut its own budget,” Dyes said. “I don’t know what they’re doing with the movie money. They could use the money to help the taxes be brought down.”
Richard Proctor, a Grantville resident and mayoral candidate, asked a number of questions about the budget including what was the intended use of the $200,000 contingency, was there any money to hire a director for Parks and Recreation, and where the special purpose local option sales tax proceeds were included in the budget.
The contingency went from 0 in the current budget to $200,000 in the proposed budget, Proctor noted, and asked why.
Grieshaber said because of inflation.
“We put that in wherein when some costs go up that we have not estimated correctly for them, we can use our contingency,” he said.
Proctor also asked where he could find the SPLOST money was in the budget. Grieshaber said the SPLOST was accumulated for projects and was not included in the general fund budget.
Proctor also asked if the budget included money to replace the Parks and Recreation director.
“I will tell you, the public is demanding a Parks and Recreation director; that has not been filled for eight years,” he said. “Are there any plans to hire that person?”
Grieshaber said both a full-time director and part-time assistant director would be considered new positions at this point and the Grantville City Council members have not authorized the city to hire for those positions.
The parks and recreation expenditures include the maintenance of the city parks and for special events including the city’s Easter egg hunt, as well as the July 3, Fall Festival and Christmas activities, Grieshaber said.
The remaining two public hearings will be held during the City Council meeting and work session. The work session will be on Monday, Aug. 8, and the meeting will be on Monday, Aug. 22. Both are held at 6:30 p.m. in the Council chambers.
The council members are scheduled to vote on the proposed budget and millage rate at their meeting on Aug. 22.